Burning, cats, and zombies: a recap of GRASCan 2015

We had another successful meeting of Graph Searching in Canada (GRASCan) this last weekend, with about 15 participants from across Canada and the US. GRASCan was held at Universite de Montreal, co-chaired by Gena Hahn and Ben Seamone (I was a co-chair, but did little of the organization). There were talks on graph burning, the game of Cats vs Mouse (a version of Cops and Robbers), the game of Zombies and Survivors (another version of Cops and Robbers), as well as new work on firefighting in infinite grids, and the capture time of cop-win graphs. Montreal was lovely as usual; we had only one brief but heavy rainfall.

GRASCan is an annual conference I started in 2012 at Ryerson to showcase work in Canada on the topic of graph searching. The second GRASCan was also at Ryerson, and the third in 2014 was in Florida (typical snowbirds!).  The focus of the conference is broad in scope, surveying all pursuit/searching games studied on graphs. This includes Cops and Robbers and all its variants, graph cleaning, edge searching, eternal domination, and firefighting problems. While small in size and informal, the conference has high impact, with an opportunity for people to present their work, and then network with experts in the field. Talks are in the morning, and the afternoons are spent in collaboration, sometimes in small groups, and sometimes in a large discussions.

The workshop also had a few students and post-docs there, and I met some new people. The Cops and Robbers principle is still in effect: once you hear about the game, you inevitably work on some aspect of it in your own research!

The next GRASCan will take place in summer 2016 in the Atlantic provinces, possibly Dalhousie.

Anthony Bonato

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